‘Mapping Our World,’ an Interactive Tool for Students and Educators

EarthzineEarth Science week 2014

An example learning unit from Mapping Our World. Image Credit: NASA

An example learning unit from Mapping Our World. Image Credit: NASA

The 2013 theme of Earth Science Week was “Mapping Our World,” focusing on how NASA has used various technologies like satellites for more than 40 years to measure and observe the Earth in an effort to further our understanding of our planet.

The “Mapping Our World” interactive tool provides students and educators with data and images from more than a dozen NASA observation missions, including data sets on sea ice concentration, stratospheric ozone, and forest fires.

For Earth Science Week 2014, the site will be updated with additional information.

Each data set on Mapping Our World offers details on the satellite mission, along with basic geographical facts, Earth system information, and links to related sites. A companion page was created for educators to help teach students about the “interconnected nature” of the Earth system.

Additionally, “Images and Data Booklet” was created as a guide for educators, separating the information into three categories: Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. An “Educator’s Tool Belt” section also provides instructions on how to use certain resources like NASA imagery and movies in the classroom.

Educators can play a clip from the Climate Reel to jumpstart a discussion on climate change or have students find a satellite image and discuss how it could be used by policymakers to implement change and benefit society.

One middle school science teacher had students design a continent using data from NASA Earth observations. Other notable tools include The Climate Time Machine, which shows how climate change indicators have developed over time, and the IceBridge Data Portal, which lets users visualize and interact with data used to create detailed images of the Earth’s polar ice.

For more on IceBridge, see “Operation IceBridge aims to fill polar ice monitoring gap.”